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Pietro “Pepe” Tirelli – Interview

Not a rude boy


It doesn’t happen too often, but it happens. Photographer Davy van Laere sent some photos from an Antiz trip. I mean, getting photos from an Antiz trip happens often cause they’re touring the whole time, but there were photos of a guy we haven’t seen before and he skated really unique and looked really interesting. That’s what’s rarely happening. That you get surprised by a new face and are instantly fascinated by his skating and the vibe that he brings along with him. We had to know more about this tattooed youngster from Italy, talked to some other photographers, and it turned out that he had collected some heavy hitters. From there on, it was a no-brainer that we had to get him into the mag. And, luckily, a good friend of ours, Davide Martinazzo, knows Pepe pretty well and was able to do the interview. The best things in life are those that just come together naturally.

Can you introduce yourself and tell me what you are doing today?

I am Pepe and actually I’m gonna have some tea while I’m drawing on this table with a big pen. So not much today, just chilling.

You just recovered from an injury. I heard you hurt your ankle or your knee?

No, it was okay, but I just kind of broke my left hand like two days ago.

I didn’t know you were injured that bad, but at least you could look forward to this interview. You are in the beautiful city of Turin right now. Can you tell me some more about you – how old you are, what do you do in life?

I’m 21 right now – legal age – and I’m trying to do my stuff; to draw a bit and skate as much as I can here in this great city, at least when it’s not raining, to travel through Europe in the Antiz van, and to take the tent to fucking yards and skateparks.

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Wallride Melon

So how did you start skating?

Oh fuck, maybe ten years ago, alone, in my fucking garage. And then the beers came about, I forgot everything and just got there somehow. 

I wanted to talk some more about the city of Turin because it has a huge skate culture. It was kind of the Mecca for Italian skateboarders during the late 80s. All the skaters of the older generation came from there. Now it looks like you and your crew are like the new generation everyone talks about. But it’s also very tough to get in because they are not very friendly to everyone… I don’t want to say that they are rude, but they are more hardcore than people in Milan or other cities. Can you talk about the scene and the culture of Turin and what the atmosphere at Piazza Castello or Valdo Fusi is like?

For sure, what you say is right. The hardcore punk scene was pretty huge in the late 80s and 90s. I for sure got influenced by that. I grew up with people twice my age, but I don’t know about the rude thing either. I’m not a rude boy for sure. I’m trying to keep the skateboard part of the culture hardcore for sure though. I’m more into that, rather than the new generation stuff. I’m not too good at the social networking internet stuff. I’d rather go out and skate with my friends. That’s it.

"I’m trying to keep the skateboard part of the culture hardcore for sure."

You’re not an Instagram skater? More like a true skater…

No, it was more about the influence of the whole generation though…

I think this is your first interview. It’s a proper one and it’s in a European magazine. It’s a pretty good way to start your career like this, isn’t it?

For sure, I’m stoked. Thanks to all the Solo guys for this. I’m looking forward to traveling and getting to see new places with new opportunities that I get because of Antiz and stuff. So it’s pretty good to learn for sure. It’s all about learning by traveling.

How did you get on Antiz? Because I was really curious when I heard it.

Actually, a part of the Antiz crew came to my home town during a tour in Italy. Since we were the local guys, we showed them around and my friend Alberto let them sleep at his place. After a few days of skating, talking, and having some beers together, we got along really well and Juju [Julien Bachelier] asked me to jump in the van for the rest of the tour. We skated together and had a good time, no matter what was going to happen later, and we basically just continued to have a good time together.

So you could say that it’s a friendship-like situation. You pretty much just became an Antiz rider naturally because you were the right guy.

Yeah, kind of. In a really pure way. Skateboarding is all about being with your friends and having a good time. I fit in and I’m really stoked about it because now it’s kind of my family.

What’s in your head when you think about being a skater from Turin and starting to travel now?

It’s not really pressure, I guess, but you have to be more focused on video parts, more focused on what to say, more focused on the competition – if you do competitions, of course. 

"Being stuck between the four walls called school is not for me."

Do you think it’s a turning point?

Oh, I didn’t really think about pressure or whatever. I was just stoked when everything came about. During the past six months, I have seen a huge part of Europe that I have never seen before. Every day I was stoked on meeting new people, seeing new beautiful places, and skating new crazy spots in all the cities. I actually just enjoyed it. And now I know what I want to do. We are just enjoying, keeping the good mood up, having fun, and producing what we love in a good way, in a hard way.

By traveling a lot, getting connected to people who live like you, art and music became a very important part of your life. And I know that you study art, paint a lot, take a lot of photos. Can you tell me more about your art? What do you have in mind?

I actually dropped out of school lately. I don’t go to school anymore. It’s not skateboarding’s fault, I just felt that I get more input for my stuff when I’m around skating and traveling, seeing new stuff, and making new experiences. Being stuck between the four walls called school is not for me. So I just dropped out and I’m lucky to be in the situation I am right now. It’s exactly what I searched for.

And you started to paint, doing tattoos and photography before… 

Of course, I experiment a lot. I’m trying to experiment a lot with different ways of expression if you want to call it like that. It’s just different techniques. Printing techniques, tattooing, computer stuff, graphic stuff. Every day is a new day. I’m discovering something new every day because I’m always practicing, trying something new. Nobody is teaching me.

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Bs Bluntslide

At one point, I started to see a bunch of skaters with crazy tattoos and when I asked them, “What the hell, where did you get that crazy tattoo from?” they always told me that you did them. 

Tattooing is good and fun to do at night. “Bring the beers, I bring the music,” and then I’m like, “Okay, I’m gonna bring the tattoo machine.”

So it’s a perfect combo for a skate night with friends. Do you also plan on exhibiting your paintings somewhere? Is that something you can imagine to do for a living as well or is it just for fun?

Sure, it’s always for fun too. The sad thing is that I got to feed myself now… You know, I’m a grown-up boy… Suddenly money gets involved and I’m really not good at handling money. But for sure, I have to make it a job at one point. I don’t want to call it a job because, of course, I’m trying to do what I love, but I got to pay the rent too. And beers for my friends. And roses for girls.

Does your family support you on that? Because I know that your mother is teaching at the university. It’s quite an artsy family, right? So do they like the way you’re growing up? Did you grow up talking about Rembrandt or Van Gogh or architectural things or do they just support you?

If you put it like that, it’s kind of hard. They are super cool persons and I’m the luckiest guy ever. They are pretty chill and, of course, they have a very different mentality than I have. They are another generation, I guess. Right now, I’m super close with them and they support me as much as they can. Of course, they worry about me sometimes. They were the first ones who believed in what I was doing – probably even before I did myself.

"I got to pay the rent. And beers for my friends. And roses for girls."

That’s rad. I know that you are working on some graphics for collabo stuff. Can you tell us a little bit more about that project? It’s not the first drop of boards with your graphics on, but I think it’s pretty good to be skateboarder and artist.

Right now, I just did a board for a collaboration of Vans Italy and three of the biggest shops in Italy. One in my hometown, which I skate for, Skateboarding’s Finest, bastard in Milan, and your shop, Dave, the Flame Shop. Me and Mattia Turco and Fabio Montagner do the graphics. As I said before, I’m just trying to do new stuff, so I’m experimenting a lot while I’m working. It’s like a journey because I start to think about something and try to get whatever’s on my mind on the computer screen or the paper. The possibility of making skateboarding graphics is the sickest part, to skate one of your graphics or see your friends skating and enjoying it. For sure, it’s difficult to design something in that format. But it’s fun to bring together the two things I love in life.

You are also working on a new video part – or is it some sort of secret project?

I can say that we are always trying to get together and skate new stuff with a recording machine running. And yeah, Ludo [Ludovic Azemar] is working on some stuff with Antiz and I’m trying to film with the Vans filmer here in Turin a bit. So when I’m not injured, I’ll see what happens. But the weather here is pretty sucky in the fucking winter. Maybe I can skate once or twice a week. We’ll see in the future, who knows.

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50-50 Tucknee

And do you have a plan for the summer? Anything with friends, family, your crew, or Antiz?

Actually, I can’t wait to be in the van again, being around the Antiz boys. I hope – maybe – we’ll be hitting the other side of the planet, maybe this summer. We’ll see. There’s a lot of stuff going on.

So this is your plan for spring and summer. But what’s your plan for life? We can close the interview by discussing your big plan. I know it’s a hard question. But maybe you can just say what will happen to you within the next 20 years.

I hope I’m still alive. I hope everybody is still alive. As long as I’m alive, I’ll try to enjoy what’s good and not waste time on the useless stuff. Good sunsets, good beer, and girls. I don’t know man, fuck the future.